As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, there are some important things to remember as you head outside to ride
The days are getting shorter and, for most of us, the cooler temperatures have started to roll in (if you’re one of the lucky few in a warmer state, soak up a little extra sunshine for the rest of us!).
Whether you’re hitting the road or tackling the trails, there are a few important things to remember in order to stay safe and optimize your performance as the cooler weather approaches.
Staying warm while cycling can be a challenge. You want to make sure you have the right gear for each occasion.
Having multiple layers is always a good starting point as each layer will help trap in heat to help you stay warm. Having multiple layers also allows you take one off as you get warmed-up or as the temperatures warm-up throughout your ride.
Other essentials to keeping warm include:
- wind and waterproof gloves
- a thin, tight fitting hat to go under your helmet
- toe covers or full on shoe covers
- leg warmers and/or long sleeved cycling bibs
- face and neck gaiters to help block that cold air from sneaking in
As the daylight hours dwindle, it’s important to have adequate lights and high-visibility gear to help keep you safe.
Lights on the front and back of the bike that feature bright high-visibility lights are best. This will help you be seen both on the road or on the trails.
Having reflective gear can also enhance your own visibility while biking in the dark. Whether it’s a jacket that has reflective features built into it or simply throwing on a bright and reflective vest over your other gear, this will ensure you’re seen by cars and other bikers.
Stay Nourished & Hydrated
Despite the cooler temperatures, it’s important to continue to fuel your body properly and stay hydrated.
As the weather gets cooler, it’s normal to feel as though your overall effort level during training will feel lower. This is because you are not battling the stress of the heat (which can force your heart rate to climb). Taking in calories throughout will still help you feel stronger for longer. Whether you’re hitting it hard for an hour on the trails or just going out for a steady Saturday morning long ride, you’ll benefit from taking in your nutrition throughout the ride.
Although you may not be sweating as much in the cooler temps, there are two important factors to remember when it comes to hydration when it is colder out:
- You will still likely be sweating, especially if you have multiple layers on. If you live in a humid environment for a lot of the year, the fall and winter can be a nice relief as your sweat is actually able to evaporate and help keep you cool, and therefore you might not feel like you are sweating as much.
- Fluid loss occurs through simple respiration. When you’re breathing, you lose water in the form of water vapor or the humidity of the breath. This becomes even more of a concern when the air becomes really dry, as it often does in the cold winter months. Dry air forces your body to use more internal fluid stores to humidify the dry air you’re breathing in as it moves through the lungs.
Just as we recommend doing sweat rate tests in the warmer months, it’s also a good idea to re-do the test this time of year to have a better idea of how much fluid you are actually losing on an hourly basis in the cooler weather. This will give you a gauge of how much you should be drinking.
We normally recommend you mix your 1 serving of INFINIT with approximately 600ml of water. But you might find it hard to drink that much when it is colder out.
If you are finding it difficult to take down your nutrition on the cooler rides, try doing 1 serving per 400ml and see if that works better for you.
You might also find during the cooler weather months that you don’t need as many electrolytes as your overall sweat rate is decreased.
If you are mixing in some sessions on the trainer throughout the winter, you’ll likely find you continue to have a high sweat rate while cycling indoors. For individuals that are healthy, with no known kidney issues, no known blood pressure issues or other adverse effects to sodium, the body tends to do a good job of getting rid of extra salt by pushing it out through the sweat glands. So don’t be surprised if you find that you are a little saltier than normal when you get done with your ride.
So whether you’re just trying to stay active through the cooler months or looking to get a jumpstart on your training for next year, make sure you stay warm, visible and fueled as you hit the road or trail for your next session.
About the Author
Colin Riley, MS, RDN, LD, CSSD is INFINIT's Head Formulation Specialist, registered dietitian, a fourth year professional triathlete, and a USA Triathlon level 1 certified triathlon coach. Colin started his triathlon career while he was studying at the University of Dayton and Florida State University. Also in that time Colin received his Bachelor of Science in fitness and nutrition from University of Dayton and his Masters in Sports Nutrition from Florida State University.